Author: Amatoga Jeremie
Revelations
| November 9, 2010 | 11:36 pm | Uncategorized | No comments

It took me three months, five trips, and four interviews to realize that I may have taken somethings for granted. Now that I have completed four interviews and starting to review my recordings, I realize that there are so many things that I would have liked to explore further! This experience is invaluable, incomparable, and virtually unprecedented in undergraduate study. I mean, realistically, how many undergraduate programs offer course that allow their students to actually conduct research in real life? I would argue that there aren’t many. But this is not the most invaluable, incomparable, or even unprecedented part of the project; it is the fact that, as a student researcher, you are given this key that unlocks a world of information that may never be shared with anyone else. The information that is divulged by the narrator may have been nesting in their minds and hearts for years, looking for an avenue of expression. The interviews are full of little secrets, whether they are found in the actual words themselves or in the words that are left unsaid and buried in the narrator’s physical movements. In my search for language, mostly verbal and written communication, I have completely forgotten about embodied communication, language that is expressed through the body and how important that is in getting more acquainted with someone. I have taken for granted the simple fact that these business owners may, in fact, be excited at the opportunity to talk about themselves and their most prized achievement: their business.

Some other things I found interesting was that, although these businesses are located in close proximity to each other (Ball Square and Magoun Square), they know virtually nothing about each other hence the lack of collaboration between them. The two in Magoun know each other and the two in Ball know each other but the ones in Magoun don’t know the ones in Ball and vice versa. I assumed that since they serve essentially the same population that they would engage with each other, but I was thoroughly mislead. What was even more surprising was that they still didn’t know each other even though at least three of them have availed themselves of the same Haitian media outlets in Boston.

Gender. We can never engage in any academic discourse without implicating gender. I realized that the business owners are male with the exception of Cordima Chiropractic Center where there is a female chief doctor. At Affordable Business Services, Inc. and the Law Office of Harvey Bazile, women are present as assistants, including Cordima Chiropractic Center. I have yet to confirm whether JR Pierre Real Estate has a female real estate agent on staff. Nevertheless, this is still significant with regard to women being owners of professional services and how men continue to dominate the professional workforce.

Last but not least, the arrival of the Green Line. It was interesting to note the differences in reactions to the project. Though the majority of my narrators commented that the Green Line extension would attract more business to the area, one narrator remarked that it would actually stabilize activity because it would provide current clients with a more convenient means of accessing Somerville via public transit. I didn’t think about this before so I think it makes a great contribution to my records.

Walking Tour: Part II
| September 25, 2010 | 9:35 pm | Uncategorized | No comments
Laundry on a clothesline. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photograph taken by Amatoga Jérémie.
Laundry on a clothesline. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photograph taken by Amatoga Jérémie.

Walking Tour, Round 2

Laundry on a clothesline. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photograph taken by Amatoga Jérémie.

I took the picture on the left first. In the moment, I was surprised to see that there were still people who hung their laundry out to dry. I thought to myself that this must be a rare occurrence in the neighborhood because it did not seem like a place where such private affairs would be displayed in such a public manner. Then, as I walked a bit further, I noticed that, behind a house that I was inspecting, there were clothes hanging out to dry in the backyard. Apparently, this is not an isolated event and that there must be a tacit agreement on such activity. The mere fact that there is laundry hanging out to dry is indicative of a working class neighborhood. But, why have these two separate households decided to hang their laundry out to dry rather than simply placing them in a dryer? There may be a number of explanations. Is it economic? Can these people afford a dryer? I ask this because it is not just the cost of purchasing a dryer that must be considered but rather the electricity bill as well. Is their dryer malfunctioning? If so, why didn’t they go to the laundromat? Maybe they wanted to take advantage of the beautiful weather. Is it a cultural thing? In some places, such as Madrid, Spain, the air is very dry so they hang their laundry. Is this a display for nostalgia for simpler times? I don’t know the answers to some of these questions but it was definitely interesting to think about.

Backyard bonding. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photograph taken by Amatoga Jérémie.
Backyard bonding. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photograph taken by Amatoga Jérémie.

If you look closely at the individuals in the picture, you can see that they are of Asian descent and that the one woman on the right-hand side is holding a small object in her hand. Since the picture is not clear and I could not exactly see or hear what they were doing, I can only speculate as to the meaning of this moment. Are they harvesting this plant? If so, for what purpose (i.e. medical, spiritual, edible)? What kind of plant is this? Where is it from? Are they family or are they friends? Do they live in the neighborhood or do they just come to take care of the plant? Did they actually plant it or did it exist beforehand? These are the questions I am beginning to ask myself as I take these tours. Pictures really do mean a thousand words.

An elevated house. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photograph taken by Amatoga Jérémie.

DSC_0013Though this is not the best example, this does accurately illustrate the difference I noticed between houses on the right side of the street and houses on the left. The house to the right is elevated and the house to the left is basically on the ground, which makes the positioning of their ground floors different from each other. My first assumption was that it is due to flooding — perhaps this neighborhood is in a flood zone because I also noticed that the street was slanted toward the right (which may account for the fact that the homes on this side are elevated). So my questions with regard to this topic are: Is this a flood zone? If so, does this make the neighborhood more affordable? Are taxes and mortgages lower, etc?

Man carrying groceries. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photograph taken by Amatoga Jérémie.Man carrying groceries. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photograph taken by Amatoga Jérémie.

This picture is funny because I took it without thinking whether it’d be relevant or even valuable but then I realized that it brought up some pertinent questions. This man is walking home with some groceries. Although I do not know what these bags contain, the fact that I don’t know leads me to ask  whether he lives alone or with a family? How far was the store? The house in the background is his house and I saw him walking so I know he did not take his car. Was it a grocery store or a corner store? Where is the nearest grocery store? Would it be more accessible to the neighborhood with the arrival of the Green Line?

Contemporary House. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photograph taken by Amatoga Jérémie.
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Contemporary House. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photograph taken by Amatoga Jérémie.

DSC_0032This house seemed as though it has been recently renovated. It has been re-constructed in a contemporary style, which makes it more modern and chic. Judging by the number of mailboxes, I assume it is multi-family. I cannot recall whether there were any businesses there. I imagine that the kind of people who live there are adventurous, young professionals, but I may be totally wrong.

I mentioned earlier that these homes were a clearer indication of socioeconomic class. My claim was wrong because as I kept walking I came to an apartment complex with a nice motorcycle in front. The apartment complex itself looked as though it catered to more working class individuals. The potted plants and flags made it seem more cozy and the style of the apartment was slightly outdated.

Apartment complex. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photographs taken by Amatoga Jérémie.

Satellite dishes. Who knew satellite dishes could actually be interesting and useful for anything besides watching television? Well, they are because they reveal a lot about who is living in a house, for example, how many people are living in a house, how many rooms there are, affordability, a neighborhood’s attitude toward cable versus satellite television, and what kinds of television services and companies are offered to a neighborhood.

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Satellite dishes. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photographs taken by Amatoga Jérémie.

Satellite dishes. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photographs taken by Amatoga Jérémie.

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Brazilian store "For Rent" sign. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photographs taken by Amatoga Jérémie.
Brazilian storefront “For Rent” sign. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photographs taken by Amatoga Jérémie.

This was the complete opposite of Union Square and Cambridge/Washington Street. Whereas in Union Square there was an inundation of Brazilian businesses, the Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods had an insignificant, if not altogether nonexistent presence. This “for rent” sign confirmed my suspicion. What circumstances caused the Brazilian hair salon to move? Was it economic? Where did it move to? If businesses are already moving out of the neighborhoods before the arrival of the Green Line due to high rental costs, then what will happen when the Green Line arrives? Which businesses will thrive and which will fail?

About Amatoga Jeremie
| September 13, 2010 | 4:46 pm | Uncategorized | No comments

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Hello, everyone! My name is Amatoga Jérémie. I am currently a junior at Tufts University. I am currently pursuing a double major in Anthropology and Spanish here at Tufts. I live in New Jersey with my mother, father, younger brother, and my dog, Diamond.

I am an avid globetrotter. My travels have taken me to Morocco, Haiti, Brazil, Spain, the Dominican Republic, and Italy. My dream destinations are Bali, Cuba, Costa Rica, and Ethiopia. My love of languages also coincides with my love for travel and adventure. I am a bilingual Haitian-Creole speaker. In addition to Spanish, I have studied French for the past six years; I recently discontinued formal French language instruction while at Tufts to continue studying Spanish. I hope to learn Arabic and Portuguese in the future.

I had such a wonderful childhood! I was not just raised by my mother and father. I grew up with aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents, great aunts, and tons of cousins! Weekends during the year would consist of family dinners and to this day the summers are full of barbecues and parties. If my parents were unable to take me to a hair appointment or if they missed a field hockey game, someone from my family would step in and make sure that I have at least one supporter in the crowd. I guess this is why I am so optimistic and why I place so much value on community; it’s because I’ve always been surrounded by positive role models and good energy.

But growing up as a young Haitian-American woman does not come without its trials and tribulations.  Though amazing, my identity is somewhat enigmatic. The space I occupy as first generation American is fraught with conflict between Haitian values and American cultural ideals. I find that in some situations I may rely on one but not the other.  At other times, these two halves form a perfect whole.  It seems as though this should be the “best of both worlds”, but there is also a possibility that I may never fully know either half in its entirety. I guess all I can do is try.

When I attended my first anthropology class my sophomore year at Tufts, I felt as though anthropology as a way of thinking was intrinsic to my own philosophies. Identity, ideology, space, place, and the circulation of people and ideas are topics that are relevant to my life. So, anthropology as a discipline is a natural forum for my academic, professional, and personal endeavors.

Like I mentioned before, I am the product of immigration. My parents emigrated from Haiti in search of opportunity. They wanted to establish a better life for their family as well as for subsequent generations. Though I have experienced firsthand the fruits of their labor, I do have a somewhat skewed perception of what being an immigrant entails and who an immigrant is. Through this course, I seek to learn what it means to be an immigrant and how this affects family and community life. I want to learn how to study a community, that is how to analyze a group of people from an academic perspective. I hope to acquire the skills necessary for conducting community-based research and anthropological fieldwork. Furthermore, I am excited by the idea of being able to apply anthropological theories that I have learned in class to a real-world setting. By the end of the course I hope to answer my own questions relating to the synergy between immigrant, neighborhood, and society so that I can compare and contrast various aspects of immigrant communities, including my own, in the future. For example, what are the root causes of anti-immigration sentiment? How can this project help to dispel certain myths surrounding immigrant communities? Where does my heritage fall in this project?


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